Motives in Prayer
Prayer is open, honest communication with God. It’s from the heart of man to his Creator. But the motives in prayer are important too. They can determine whether the prayer is a selfish request or a loving communication with the God who saved one from an eternity of agonizing darkness. A prayer like, . .
“God, please help me to get out of this financial bind,” or “help Uncle David to be free of his disease,” are common enough types of prayers. They’re from the heart well enough, but lack the partnership between the Savior and the one being saved. The interest expressed is one-sided, without keeping God’s interest in mind.
I have been working on this concept as I pray for the needs around me throughout my day. Still shy of reaching complete success, I am working at keeping God’s interest in mind while I pray. I want God to be honored in the words of my prayers. This honoring God doesn’t mean that the words must be fancy, but rather that they express the sometimes misplaced truth that what God wants is important too.
Back to the prayer for Uncle David, this time with an unselfish motive: “God, You have allowed Uncle David to come down with this horrible disease. I trust in You that You are in complete control. I want Uncle David to come to the place in his life where he places his faith in you as his Savior. Please grant him the life to make this faith decision and experience the life you came for him to have. (John 10:10) Grant him the grace to spend his last time on earth knowing that he will spend eternity with You. (1John 5:13) Thank you that You do not want anyone to perish.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Or the prayer over a financial bind with a more open and honest approach: “Heavenly Father, I’m sorry for spending all that money on that vacation. It was more than I should have spent. That missionary in China that has been on my mind is someone I would really like to have given some money to. I can’t do it now though. I was selfish, and I’m sorry. Please give me wisdom (James 1:5) to spend my money better in the future so I can give to Your work (Matthew 6:33). That’s where I really want my heart to be (Matthew 6:21).”
Such prayers express trust in God, confession of wrong choices, and thankfulness for the truths of His Word. Prayer can even have pauses to allow our sovereign God to put the right words on our heart. Prayer is communication between the One who hears EVERYTHING and the one who has to work hard at just being still and listening. (Psalm 46:10)
I don’t pray the way I used to years ago any more than I talk the way I did as a toddler. I have gotten to know my Heavenly Father through placing my faith in His Son, keeping prayer a regular part of my day, and . . . well, the work of His undeserved grace toward me.
Prayer that starts from the heart and then communicates by faith with the invisible God is prayer that will grow over years. As a small child progresses up through teen years and on to being a wise old great-grandparent, prayer can progress toward a deeper and deeper relationship with the loving Savior. A good question just may not be limited to what I should be praying but also why. It’s so much more than just “Gimme, gimme.” Prayer is meant to be a form of worship. No ritual involved. No routine words. Only a calling out from the heart to a loving Heavenly Father awaiting our words.